International Space Station: Sea Plankton Found in Space

international space station
Russian space officials say that sea plankton as well as other, unspecified microorganisms were found on the exterior of the International Space Station (ISS) during a spacewalk. Scientists are perplexed as to their origin.

The first possible answer to the question of “how?” was the idea that the plankton and microorganisms were carried aloft when the ISS modules they were found on were lifted into space. However, plankton is not found anywhere near the launch site in Kazahkstan, so that possibility was quickly eliminated. The working hypothesis now is that air currents from Earth carried it aloft from the surface of a sea.

Despite the sophisticated and intense testing and monitoring  which is constantly happening on the International Space Station, the discovery was actually made by accident. Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Olek Artemyev were outside the station on a routine spacewalk, busy launching nanosatellites into space. (“Nanosats” are artificial satellites with a wet mass weight of 2.2 pounds to 22 pounds.) A part of their extravehicular activity was routine polishing of windows (also known as “illuminators”) of the Russian portion of the ISS. The wipes they used on the windows picked up the plankton, which was later identified using an unspecified form of “high-precision equipment.” The results of the tests were apparently finalized late last year and the organisms have reportedly been living on the outside of the ISS for a number of years.

Incredibly, the Earth-originated microscopic organisms survived through the extreme conditions of cosmic radiation, freezing temperatures, diminished levels of oxygen and the vacuum of space. The Russian space modules on which the plankton were found lifted off from a space facility at Baikonur, Kazahkstan, a continental location nowhere near a plankton habitat. On the other hand, at an altitude of 260 miles, neither is the ISS.

Although being carried up into space by air currents from Earth’s seas is the current favorite guess, Vladimir Solovyev, the head of the Russian ISS mission, expressed his less-than-100 percent confidence in this theory. Itar-Tass, a Russian news agency, said Solovyev and researchers are not absolutely sure how the particles could have arrived on the surface of the ISS. He did confirm, however, that plankton in the stage of development in which they were noticed on the ISS are indeed found on ocean surfaces.  He said, obliquely, that ” … there are some rising air currents, which settle on the surface of the station.”

A former cosmonaut, Solovyev spent almost a year orbiting Earth in the 1980s. He said that ISS’s outer surface is “heavily contaminated” from discharges from the space station during spacewalks and from the engines of arriving spacecraft. Solovyev said that the cleaning and polishing of the outside of the Russian portion of the ISS is part of a special operation. “This is especially important during long space flights,” he said.

Long-term research has shown that certain organisms are capable of staying alive on the outer surface of the International Space Station for years. Other studies have shown that such organisms not only can survive but even develop. The National Aeronautic & Space Administration of the United States has not yet commented on whether the discovery of sea plankton in space could have an effect on the American portion of the International Space Station or whether it has recorded similar findings.

By Gregory Baskin

Sources:
Daily Mail
ITAR-TASS
stuff.co.nz
RT

3 Responses to "International Space Station: Sea Plankton Found in Space"

  1. spencer   August 26, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    I look at it this way… Picture the atmosphere in space as an ocean of water. All of the planets are spheres submerged into the water. All in the allignment and dimentions that they are in. If organisms and other creatures can develop and evolve on this surface, in the same conditions as the space station, why can’t it grow on the space station itself? Plankton and algie and other microrganisms have been around as long as the earth mist likely.. which by the way was probably at one point in the same position as the spacestation. I doubt it was brought up from earth. Earth is an object in space, just like the spacestation itself.

    Reply
  2. Gregory Baskin   August 20, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    A well thought-out and helpful reply, Nat. Thank you.

    Reply
  3. Nat Turner   August 20, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    This finding on the International Space Station makes it clear that the earth is surrounded by an aura of life, at least in the form of plankton.
    Though the particular type of plankton has not been identified,
    it has been established that it is not the type of plankton,
    which would have possibly been picked up from the delivery launch
    area of Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan .
    Were the plankton picked up before launch,
    doubtless the extreme heat would have destroyed them.
    The ISS has been orbiting the earth since 1998 at an
    altitude of between 330 km / 205 mi and 435 km /270 mi
    It is clear that if they are first lifted from the sea into the atmosphere
    by rising air currents and winds,
    when those winds dissipate that the plankton carries on
    at their own steam as though drifting in the seas.
    The oceans have been here some 4,400 billion years,
    it must be posited that what ever means the plankton has used to make it into space onto the ISS, has been going on since that time.
    The unthinkable alternative is that the deeps, of space, is full of this life form,
    which of course will give the evolutionists new material,
    other than asteroids,
    with which to rework their theories of the seeding of life on earth

    Reply

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